The artos, which was blessed after the Liturgy of Pascha, is cut and distributed after Liturgy on Bright Saturday. The prayer read today speaks of Christ as the Bread of Life.
The Church commemorates Saint John on this day because of the annual pilgrimage to his grave. When Saint John was more than one hundred years old, he took seven of his disciples and went to a spot outside the city of Ephesus. There he told them to dig a grave in the form of a cross. Then he climbed…
Saint Arsenius the Great was born in the year 354 at Rome into a pious Christian family, which provided him a fine education and upbringing. He studied rhetoric and philosophy, and mastered the Latin and Greek languages. Saint Arsenius gave up philosophy and the vanity of worldly life, seeking…
Saint Arsenius the Lover of Labor lived during the fourteenth century. This ascetic was distinguished by his love for toil, and living in asceticism in the Kiev Caves monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, he knew no rest. He prayed constantly and partook of food only at the setting…
Saint Pimen, Faster of the Caves, won fame by his exploit of fasting. The relics of the saint rest in the Far Caves. He is also commemorated on August 28.
1. THE HOLY APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST JOHN
The feast day of this great apostle and evangelist is celebrated on September 26. This day (May 8) commemorates the miracle which appeared at his grave. When John was over one hundred years old, he took seven of his disciples, went outside the town of Ephesus and ordered them to dig a grave in the form of a cross. After that, the elder went down into this grave and was buried. Later on, when the faithful opened John's grave, they did not find his body. On May 8 of every year, dust is raised from his grave from which the sick are healed of various diseases.
2. VENERABLE ARSENIUS THE GREAT
This glorious saint was born of a patrician family in Rome and was well educated in the secular sciences and philosophy as well as in spiritual wisdom. Abandoning all the vanity of the world, he dedicated himself to the service of the Church and was a deacon of the great church in Rome. Unmarried, withdrawn, quiet and devout, Arsenius thought to live that way his entire life. But the Providence of God directed his path in life otherwise. Emperor Theodosius took him as a tutor and teacher of his sons Arcadius and Honorius, and installed him as a senator surrounding him with great wealth, honors and luxury. But all of this burdened Arsenius' heart rather than pleasing him. It happened that Arcadius committed a wrong and for that Arsenius punished him. The offended Arcadius conceived a terrible revenge against his teacher and when Arsenius found out he changed into the clothes of a beggar, left for the seashore, boarded a boat and sailed to Egypt. When he arrived at the renowned Scete, he became a disciple of the glorious John Colobus [The Short] and dedicated himself to a life of asceticism. He considered himself dead and when someone informed him that a wealthy relative died and willed his entire estate to him, Arsenius replied: "But I died before him, how is it therefore that I could be his heir?" Withdrawn in a hermit's cell as in a tomb, throughout the entire day, he wove baskets of palm leaves, and at night, he prayed to God. He avoided men and all conversations with them. Only on feast days did he leave his cell and attend church to receive Holy Communion. In order not to become lazy, he often asked himself the question: "Arsenius, why did you come to the wilderness?" He remained in the wilderness for fifty-five years as a "desert dweller" and for that entire time was a model to the monks and a glory to monastics in general. In all, Arsenius lived one hundred years and died peacefully in the year 448 A.D. after prolonged labor and voluntarily imposing hardships upon himself and took up habitation in the kingdom of Christ the Lord, Whom he loved with all his heart, all his mind and all his soul.
3. SAINT EMILIA
Emilia was the mother of Saint Basil the Great. In her youth she desired to remain a virgin for life but was forced into marriage. Emilia gave birth to nine children and so inspired them with the Spirit of Christ that five of them became Christian saints: Basil the Great, Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, Macrina and Theosevia. In her old age Emilia established a convent where she lived with Macrina her daughter and where she died in the Lord on May 8, 375 A.D.
4. VENERABLE ARSENIUS THE LOVER OF LABOR
Arsenius was a monk in the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev. He never afforded himself any rest but continually labored. He ate food only once a day, after the setting of the sun. He lived a life of asceticism and died in the fourteenth century.
Glorious Arsenius, whom the world glorified,
Fleeing from glory, to himself he said,
To men and to the world, consider yourself dead,
Neither wise nor foolish words, do not speak.
For a word, at one time in life, I repented,
For silence, I have never repented.
If my heart, to God I do not bind,
To shake off the passionate life, I am not able.
If, my thoughts glorify God only
External passions will leave me.
Your time, fill with prayer and labor,
Sleep even less and labor all the more.
Arsenius the sinful, why do you stop,
Why to the wilderness did you come, I ask?
Not for the sake of idleness; but for the salvation of the soul,
Not for the sake of sleep, but for the sake of repentance.
Heal yourself quickly, and enliven the soul:
Lord have mercy! Forgive and have mercy!
A monk complained to St. Arsenius that while reading Holy Scripture he does not feel, neither the power of the words read nor gentleness in his heart. To that the great saint will reply to him: "My child, just read! I heard that the sorcerers of serpents, when they cast a spell upon the serpents, the sorcerers are uttering the words, which they themselves do not understand, but the serpents hearing the spoken words sense their power and become tamed. An so, with us, when we continually hold in our mouths the words of Holy Scripture, but even though we do not feel the power of the words, evil spirits tremble and flee for they are unable to endure the words of the Holy Spirit." My child, just read! The Holy Spirit Who, through inspired men, wrote these divine words, will hear, will understand and will hasten to your assistance; and the demons will understand will sense and will flee from you. That is: He Whom you invoke for assistance will understand, and those whom you wish to drive away from yourself will understand. And both goals will be achieved.
To contemplate the Descent of God the Holy Spirit upon the apostles:
1. How there appeared fiery tongues over the apostles, one on each of them;
2. How the apostles are filled with the Holy Spirit and begin to speak in various tongues, as the Holy Spirit gives them utterance.
About evil as the fruit of the thoughts of men
"Hear O earth: behold I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened to my words, nor to my law, but rejected it" (Jeremiah 6:19).
Brethren, do you see where evil grows and where it ripens? Not in the bosom of God, but in the thoughts of men. Evil is sown in the thoughts of men by demonic powers or from the passions of the flesh. Evil grows in the thoughts of men and spreads and multiplies itself, blossoms and bears leaves and finally shows fruit. In due time, God warns men to break from their evil thoughts so that evil would not ripen in the souls of men and bring forth its bitter and deadly fruit. In due time, God warned Cain but he did not want to heed the warning and permitted evil thoughts against his brother to being forth evil fruit; fracticide.
What are the thoughts of evil? All those thoughts that are contrary to the law of God; the word of God. Evil thoughts are the self-willed law of man which man prescribes for himself against God and contrary to the law of God. Therefore, if a man has resolutely decided to adhere to the law of God, evil thoughts are then as weak as shadows which quickly appear but, in the same way, quickly disappear. Then, a man is lord over his thoughts for he feels God as the Lord over himself. Then the law is the law of God and the evil thoughts of men, are nothing.
"Behold, I will bring evil upon this people," said the Lord. What kind of evil? "The fruit of their thoughts." That is: I will permit them only to reap that which they sowed and nurtured, for evil is neither My seed nor My harvest. The evil which I will permit upon lawless men is the fruit of their own thoughts. According to their thoughts, they should have estimated what kind of evil will befall them as a sower estimates, according to his seeds, what he will harvest.
O Lord meek and guileless, save us from our own evil which we alone, have nurtured in ourselves. We pray to You, remove the evil fruit of evil crops, and help us to pluck out the evil seed from our souls.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.